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Outrun Ordinary in the new KIA Rio

Posted: June 9, 2017 at 3:53 pm   /   by   /   comments (1)
  • Latest version of Kia’s popular B-segment model, one of the brand’s global best-sellers
  • Progressive exterior design and modern cabin with ‘floating’ interface
  • New in-car technologies and connectivity features, including Android and Apple smartphone integration
  • Significantly stronger steel bodyshell for improved safety
  • Engaging handling and more comfortable ride
  • Class-leading cabin spaciousness and 325-litres luggage capacity


Following its world debut at the 2016 Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris, the all-new KIA Rio this week makes its South African debut. Now in its fourth generation, KIA’s popular B-segment contender features not only a progressive, stylish and award-winning exterior design, but also a redesigned interior with a thoroughly up-to-date ‘floating’ interface and a raft of new in-car technologies.

The Rio is one of KIA’s best selling models globally, with particularly the outgoing third-generation model credited with establishing the Korean brand as a force to be reckoned with. Despite it nearing the end of its life cycle, the outgoing model still sold almost 450,000 units globally in 2016, accounting for 15% of KIA’s annual sales. In South Africa, the Rio has also been a consistent bestseller for KIA, along with the Picanto and Sportage making up the brand’s core trio of game changers.


Following its launch in 2012, the Rio hatch was an immediate success and was consistently lauded by the public and motoring media alike. Not only did it come out tops in the Standard Bank People’s Wheels Awards, but it was also nominated as a finalist in the WesBank / SAGMJ Car of the Year competition – following in the footsteps of its 2006 predecessor.


The new, fourth-generation Rio has big shoes to fill, but more than lives up to the challenge with its progressive design, class-leading practicality, more engaging ride and handling and greater safety credentials. Having already scooped up the prestigious international iF Product Design Award and Red Dot Design Award, it shows that the new Rio is perfectly ready and set to outrun ordinary.


“As one of our best-selling models locally, the Rio is an important car for us. The B-segment is a hotly contested area of the new car market, and the third-generation Rio has introduced more people to the KIA brand than ever before. It is vital that the new Rio continues the momentum for the brand,” says David Sieff, Marketing Director, KIA Motors South Africa.


“The Rio’s attractive design, low running costs and practical nature have made the car a ‘gateway’ to the brand, an entry point into KIA ownership for hundreds of thousands of buyers around the world. It’s for these reasons that the outgoing model has sold in record numbers. The all-new Rio builds on these strengths and has been designed and engineered to meet the needs and desires of a wider range of buyers – it is now even more desirable thanks to a more enjoyable drive, a striking new design and improved safety.”


Defined by straight lines and smooth surfaces

The Rio’s progressive new exterior and interior design was led by KIA’s design centres in Germany and California, in close collaboration with the company’s domestic design base in Namyang, Korea. The appearance of the new Rio is defined by straight lines and smooth surfacing, giving the car a distinctive new look and more mature character than its predecessor.


At the front, the Rio wears the latest evolution of KIA’s ‘tiger-nose’ grille, now thinner in height and wider across the front of the car, with a gloss black grille mesh and surround. The grille is integrated with the newly designed headlamps, more sculpted for a sharper look, and featuring a new U-shaped LED daytime running light signature (model dependent). The Rio’s side vents – which house the car’s front fog lamps (model dependent) – are moved outwards and upwards in the front bumper compared to their position on the third-generation model, adding greater visual width to the front of the car for a stronger overall look. The longer bonnet features bracket-shaped creases that run down from the base of the A-pillars to the grille and headlamps.


In profile, the fourth-generation Rio’s lengthened, more balanced stance is achieved with a long bonnet and longer front overhang, a 10 mm longer wheelbase (up to 2,580 mm), a thinner, more upright C-pillar, and a shorter rear overhang. Overall, the new car is 15 mm longer than its predecessor (4,065 mm in length) and 5 mm lower (now 1,450 mm tall). Straight, clearly defined lines run down the full length of the car’s shoulder and along its doors, further stretching the appearance of the car for a more confident look.


The rear section of the Rio is now more upright, with a near-vertical rear windscreen. The straight line that runs from the grille, through the headlamps and along the top of the doors, continues around the back of the car, paired with thinner, more sculpted rear lamps. High specification models are available with LED taillights with a new arrow-shaped light signature. Like the wider looking ‘face’ of the car, the rear design of the new Rio gives the car a stronger overall appearance.


The new Rio is available in a choice of 8 exterior colours, with two different aluminium alloy wheel designs in 15- and 17-inch diameter for mid- and high-specification models, while entry-level models feature 15-inch steel wheels and stylish wheel covers.


Upping the ante inside

The new KIA Rio features a strikingly modernised new cabin, with sculptural forms and a more ergonomic layout than its predecessor, designed to accommodate the Rio’s new infotainment system.


Like the exterior, straight lines running the width of the dashboard characterise the shape of the interior, giving the cabin a wider appearance and increasing the sense of space for occupants. As well as long, lateral lines that govern the shape of the dashboard, horizontal vents further add to the visual width of the cabin, replacing the vertical vents of the third-generation model.


The dashboard itself is now angled towards the driver, a layout that provides the car with a sportier, more driver-focused design and a more premium character. At the centre of the dashboard is a ‘floating’ HMI (human-machine interface). High-specification models feature a new 7-inch Touch Screen infotainment system. Below the infotainment system, the driver-oriented centre console features fewer buttons, with more ergonomic, concave switches and rotator dials below to control the heating and ventilation.


As has become the norm with KIA vehicles, the new Rio is available with both USB and auxiliary-in ports for front passengers, enabling occupants to connect a mobile device to the Rio’s audio and infotainment system, as well as recharge batteries on the move. An additional 12V power socket is also available for additional charging devices. All models feature steering wheel-mounted audio controls and Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free telephony. Higher specification models’ Bluetooth systems also incorporate Voice Recognition.


The new Rio is available with a choice between black cloth seat upholstery for lower specification models, while high-specification models feature black leather upholstery. Mid- and high-specification models also feature a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear change lever. As standard, all seat headrests can be moved up and down, while drivers will easily find a comfortable driving position thanks to the rake and reach adjustable steering column.


New technologies further boost the appeal of the Rio’s cabin. Designed to improve comfort and convenience, the new Rio is available with (depending on the model) electric windows, electrically controlled door mirrors, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing windscreen wipers (high specification models only) and a Rear Park Assist System with reverse camera (high specification models only). A tilting and sliding sunroof is available as an option on the high-specification models.


Careful thought has been given to improving the cabin’s isolation from wind, road and engine noise. New dashboard soundproofing materials have been adopted to reduce engine noise levels in the front of the cabin, while a stiffer front subframe minimises vibrations from poor road surfaces. Changes to the exterior further enhance interior refinement, with the fourth-generation Rio adopting new front wheel air deflectors, a full under-body cover and vertical ‘blades’ extending downwards from the trunk spoiler, each serving to reduce wind noise and aerodynamics.


Greater cabin and cargo space with improved all-round visibility

Achieving high levels of practicality was a key focus for KIA’s development and engineering teams, and the result is a car with one of the most spacious cabins and highest cargo capacities (325 litres) in the B-segment.


The Rio’s 10 mm-longer wheelbase and 15mm-longer body contribute to larger cabin and cargo area dimensions. Legroom grows to 1,070 mm in the front and 850 mm in the rear, while the new model offers more shoulder room than most other cars in its class – 1,375 mm in the front and 1,355 mm in the rear. Despite the new Rio being 5 mm shorter in height than the outgoing model, front and rear headroom (987 mm and 964 mm, respectively) are among the best in the B-segment.


These improvements to space in the cabin have been achieved with a series of changes to the Rio’s packaging. These include re-profiled door trims, the adoption of new headlining materials, and changes to the shape of the dashboard, as well as more significant changes to the bodyshell of the Rio – such as the longer wheelbase.


Furthermore, thinner C-pillars – reduced in width by 87 mm – and relocated door mirrors (moved up to the base of the A-pillar) help minimise the size of the driver’s blind spots and improve all-round visibility. A lower window line around the cabin and new quarter lights at the tail end of the rear doors also give the driver and passengers a better view out.


The Rio’s cabin offers more storage space than before. At the base of the centre console is an open double tray to store mobile devices and other small items, and the overhead console includes an area to store sunglasses. The glove compartment is also a single-box shape. The new Rio has bottle holders in every door (to accommodate 0.7-litre bottles in the front and 0.5-litre bottles in the rear of the car) and two larger cup holders in the front. The doors also feature closed-bottom storage holes in the door handles, useful for small items such as a phone or coins. Except for the entry-level model in the range, all derivatives in the Rio range also feature an armrest, adding further storage capacity to the cabin.


Luggage capacity is increased by 37 litres to 325 litres (VDA; +13%), among the best in class. This extra space has been achieved in spite of the Rio’s rear overhang being shortened by 15 mm to 655 mm, a key element of the car’s new design. The Rio is fitted as standard with 60:40 split-folding rear seats and a full-size spare wheel beneath the boot floor. The fuel tank is located under the rear bench, and with a capacity of 45 litres.


Two engine options, and four specification grades


The new KIA Rio is offered with revised versions of KIA’s familiar naturally aspirated 1.25-litre and 1.4-litre MPI (multi-point injection) petrol engines. The 1.25-litre engine produces peak power of 62 kW at 6,000 r/min and 120 Nm torque at 4,000 r/min. The 1.4-litre engine produces 74 kW at 6,300 r/min and 135 Nm torque at 4,200 r/min. Both engines apply power to the front wheels, either through a five-speed manual transmission (on the Rio 1.2) or a six-speed manual transmission (on the Rio 1.4-litre). A four-speed automatic transmission is available on 1.4-litre models.


The new KIA Rio is also offered with four specification grades, adding one derivative to the line-up in comparison to the outgoing model. At the entry level, the Rio LS is only available with the 1.2-litre engine, featuring a raft of standard features that include air-conditioning, electric windows, electric side mirrors, central locking with an alarm and immobiliser, a radio system with RDS as well as MP3, auxiliary and USB connectivity, four speakers, steering wheel-mounted remote audio controls, rake and reach adjustable steering, manual headlight adjustment, and a rear USB charging port.


Moving up the grade walk, the Rio LX is only available with the 1.4-litre engine. Exterior enhancements include the addition of UV protection solar windscreen glass, front fog lights, LED Daytime Running Lights and 15-inch alloy wheels, while the interior gains a centre console armrest, a leather wrapped steering wheel and gear-shift lever, and a Supervision instrument cluster. The radio system gains two more speakers. In addition, the side mirrors gain an auto folding function with integrated indicators, while the vehicle’s lighting system gains automatic light control with an escort and Welcome Home function.


The next derivative in the range – the Rio EX – is also available only with the 1.4-litre engine, and builds on the already extensive standard features of the LX model through the addition of projection headlamps and LED rear combination lamps, as well as a 7-inch Touch Screen Infotainment System that incorporates a Rear Park Assist System with integrated rear-view camera. The Infotainment System also features Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ for full smartphone integration.


The Rio’s Android Auto™ system is designed to work with Android phones running 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher*. Available from launch, Android Auto™ connects to the user’s phone and lets them access smartphone apps and functions through the in-car infotainment system, such as voice-guided Google Maps navigation, hands-free calls and texts and voice recognition. Android Auto™ also lets users stream music from Google Play Music™ and other services.


Apple CarPlay™, for iPhone 5 or newer, enables full Siri voice control to manage the phone’s various functions and apps, including navigation via Apple Maps, calls and text dictation. Apple CarPlay™ also supports other audio apps that the user may have downloaded to their iPhone – such as music streaming or audiobook services.


At the top of the range is the familiar KIA Rio TEC. As with its predecessor, the Rio TEC is only available with the 1.4-litre engine and adds further comfort and convenience to the EX grade through the addition of machine-finished 17-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, as well as Cruise Control, an electro chromatic rear-view mirror, alloy pedals and leather upholstery.


“Our 1.2 and 1.4-litre engines have proven themselves over the past five years and remain very popular, which is why we are launching the new Rio with a relatively compact range that doesn’t compromise on high specification and outstanding value across the board,” comments Gary Scott, CEO Designate, KIA Motors South Africa.


Stronger, reinforced bodyshell

The new Rio is one of the safest cars in its class, constructed on high-strength steel body and engineered to meet the most demanding crash safety test criteria around the world.


The bodyshell of the new Rio is made up of a significant proportion of Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS). The extensive use of AHSS in the body of the Rio is part of a wider effort by KIA to achieve a 5% reduction in the average weight of new car bodies by 2020 when compared to 2014, while achieving greater safety and security. 51% of the new Rio’s body is made out of strong, light AHSS, compared to 33% in the third-generation model.


The increased application of AHSS has strengthened the passenger cabin ‘cell’ for greater occupant safety and more effective distribution of impact forces. The stronger steel has been used to reinforce the A- and B-pillars, as well as side sills, roof structure, engine bay and floor pan.


Along with driver’s and passenger’s airbags (including side and curtain airbags in the TEC model), the new Rio features front seatbelt pre-tensioners with load limiters, side door impact beams front and rear, child locks, and impact sensing door unlocking. ISOFIX child seat anchors are standard across the range, as is Anti-lock Braking System (ABS).


More engaging and stable handling with a comfortable ride

As well as being incredibly safe to drive, the new Rio builds on the level of driver engagement offered by the third-generation model. KIA’s chassis development teams have sought to introduce greater driving appeal, with more agile handling and enhanced steering response. The Rio sits on fully independent MacPherson strut front suspension and a coupled torsion beam rear axle.


The development of a stiffer bodyshell also gave R&D teams the freedom to develop a more compliant suspension system. The new Rio benefits from a revised spring and damper set-up than the outgoing model, improving the car’s compliance and comfort at all speeds, while facilitating the car’s more enjoyable, engaging handling characteristics.


Compared to the third-generation model, KIA’s development teams have made wide-ranging modifications to the Rio’s chassis, endowing the car with more immediate handling responses and improving the level of confidence that the driver has behind the wheel.


A new front suspension system features a more rigid cross member and struts, resulting in more direct, assured steering for more immediate handling responses. The rear shock absorbers are now mounted more vertically, with the new mounting position enhancing the ability of the rear axle to absorb shocks to improve ride comfort and stability under cornering and at speed. By repositioning the power steering gearbox, engineers have been able to reduce friction through the gears, enabling a 5% quicker steering ratio from ‘on-centre’ and more immediate steering responses.


Range and pricing

Despite the all-new KIA Rio representing the next big step forward for KIA in its quest to provide customers with a high-quality, all-encompassing vehicle, KIA is launching the new model range at price points that are virtually unchanged from the outgoing model.


Rio 1.2 LS Manual                   R 219,995

Rio 1.4 LX Manual                   R 234,995

Rio 1.4 EX Manual                   R 249,995

Rio 1.4 TEC Manual                 R 274,995


All models are available with an optional automatic transmission for an additional R13,000. A sunroof is available as an option on the Rio TEC for an additional R8,500.


Adding even further value to the KIA Rio package is KIA’s class-leading 5-year / Unlimited Kilometre Warranty, inclusive of 5-years / Unlimited Kilometres Roadside Assistance, as standard, as well as a 4-year / 60,000km Service Plan.


“The KIA Rio range plays in the very competitive volume portion of the market, where consumers want maximum value between the R200,000 and R300,000 mark,” comments Gary Scott. “The new model builds on the overall package appeal of its predecessor, ticking the box for the important attributes of quality, convenience, reliability, style and technology. We have every reason to expect it to continue the sales success of its predecessor.”

Learn more about the All-New KIA Rio:

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  • June 10, 2017 at 11:36 pm Andre

    Why only the 2 engine options? I had a look at the UK specs and was real intereted in the 1.0 T (118bhp) GSI.